Catholicism: Day 17 – Accepting Love

Yesterday’s spiritual exercise asked the reader to pray over Psalm 63:1-8 and to consider

“What do you thirst for” and “How do you experience God’s steadfast love?”

My reflection on the fist question felt a bit intellectual and unemotional. Based on previous reflections, what I want is to feel like my work and my life are meaningful in some way.

I’ve never been the one to drink the cool-aid. Not being able to “buy in” to others ideas is isolating and tiring.

As a result, one of my desires is to find something meaningful to contribute to.

The second question was very difficult to reflect on. I’m not sure what it means to experience “God’s steadfast love.” Have I ever felt it?

I’ve recognized “God” in nature and in the goodness of others, but that’s different than experiencing God’s love for you.

One of the core ideas of Christianity is that God loves you unconditionally. Regardless of how terrible or undeserving you think you are, God, as a divine being, accepts you and wants to be with you.

This is a tough concept to embrace. I know that I always feel like I need to be better. Not that I always try to be, but there’s always a lingering sense that I’m not good enough.

Good enough for what?

I’m not sure.

All these hard questions about God’s love and his love for you really force you examine how you view yourself.

And a key step to improving yourself is to accept yourself.

For example, if you believe you are hideous, how could you ever have a romantic relationship?

If you believe you are dumb, why would you ever make the effort to study?

This does not mean you have to lie to yourself or lie to your kids and tell them they’re great at everything. This is not simply a matter of low self-esteem.

Christianity is very smart about this. Christianity wants people to develop a relationship with God. They want people to strive to be better because it will make them happier.

To have that relationship, to become better, people have to know they are loved.

And in some ways, it has to be God’s love because love from other people is not perfect. God is powerful enough to always love you, no matter how terrible you think you are.

Once you accept that, and you trust that God wants to be with you and mold you for the better, you can truly grow and be your best self.

Now, I don’t know how to accept God’s love, especially since I’m still on the fence about the God thing. But I’d like to. And if there is a God, perhaps I just need to trust that he is working on me and all I need is patience.

The Slow Work of God

Patience is an important companion on the path to discovering your own vocation, to becoming the person you would like to become, and, in fact, to any change. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit paleontologist, who knew about the slow working of time, wrote this in a letter to a friend, on patience:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.”

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Note: If this all sounds like emotional and spiritual nonsense, you’re not crazy, it sounds that way to me too. But Christianity hits on some important ideas that can only be expressed in emotional and spiritual terms. I ask that you keep in open mind if I use the same language in my writing.

  • Okay, thanks a lot! Now I need to write in my journal! You have triggered some new insights in me. All kidding aside, thank you.

    Your discussion about daemons in your previous post, and this post about accepting love together with my current understanding of Jung’s “active imagination” technique just “clicked” for me.

    By the way, please don’t feel obligated to reply to my comments unless you just want to. I don’t want to be a pest, I just want you to know that I am still getting much from your writing. I definitely think you should do a book!